In Business for Ourselves

In Business for Ourselves: Northern Entrepreneurs

Wanda A. Wuttunee
Copyright Date: 1992
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    In Business for Ourselves
    Book Description:

    Wuttunee believes that the continued growth and development of a dynamic small business sector is vital to Canada's future economic structure. She has therefore directed her book not only to potential northern entrepreneurs and students interested in the concerns of small businesses in isolated communities but also to those who provide the support services for owners of small businesses.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6353-7
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    P. Michael Maher

    It is a pleasure to contribute the foreword to Wanda Wuttunee’s book on northern entrepreneurs. Ms. Wuttunee is an alumna of this faculty, having received her mba degree in June 1989. She has stated that the entrepreneurship courses that she took during her mba program have provided a strong information base for her current work. In addition, the Faculty of Management at the University of Calgary, through its New Venture Development Group, has been involved in entrepreneurship education for a number of years. Since 1984, the group’s mission has been to promote economic development through entrepreneurial education and research.


    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-2)
    (pp. 3-13)
    Michael P. Robinson and Wanda A. Wuttunee

    This book examines a group of successful small businesses based in the North and the people who own and operate them. It is a forum for these entrepreneurs to describe in their own words their personal experiences during the growth of their businesses. To date, no other case study has focused exclusively on northern businesses. This means that northern teaching facilities have had no access to formal northern-based case-study materials. Their courses have relied on southern-based case studies or on informal presentations of local material from instructors.

    Potential northern entrepreneurs will find concrete examples of decisions taken in the process...

  8. 1 PADDLE PRAIRIE MALL CORPORATION Paddle Prairie, Alberta
    (pp. 15-39)

    Elmer and Kim Ghostkeeper own and operate a convenience store, coin laundromat, and self-serve gasoline bar in the small Métis settlement of Paddle Prairie, located in northern Alberta. After two and a half years of planning, Ghostkeeper’s Store opened for business in Paddle Prairie on October 28, 1986. This is the only business of its kind operating in a community of 700 individuals.

    Elmer was born in Paddle Prairie and returned to the community in August 1986 to begin construction of the store. He operated the store on a daily basis until Kim completed a teaching contract in Edmonton and...

  9. 2 CASCADE PUBLISHING LTD Fort Smith, Northwest Territories
    (pp. 41-61)

    Don and Sandra Jaque own and operate theSlave River Journal, a regional newspaper serving the area between Lake Athabasca and Great Slave Lake, including the towns of Fort Smith and Fort Chipewyan. The head office is located in the town of Fort Smith, which sits on the west bank of the Slave River at the Alberta and Northwest Territories border. They also offer a computer graphics service and retail computing and office supplies under the operating name of Cascade Graphics.

    The husband and wife are equal partners and serve as publishers for the weekly newspaper, which they started in...

  10. 3 COMAN ARCTIC LTD Iqaluit, Northwest Territories
    (pp. 63-77)

    For more than twenty years, Fred Coman has been providing office and warehouse leasing, cartage, moving, and janitorial services in Iqaluit and the Baffin Island region. He recently opened an art gallery called Coman Arctic Galleries Ltd, which serves tourists and the local community.

    Fred is sole owner of his companies, but his brother Mickey handles the accounting, some of the art purchases, and hiring the janitorial staff. Fred built his business up slowly without government assistance. He attributes his success to making business decisions carefully and thoughtfully while taking advantage of opportunities, once he feels comfortable with them. Fred...

  11. 4 IKALUKTUTIAK CO-OPERATIVE LIMITED Cambridge Bay, Northwest Territories
    (pp. 79-99)

    A commercial arctic char fishery was started in the late 1950s and marked the beginning of the co-operative movement in Cambridge Bay, a community on the southeast coast of Victoria Island. More than thirty years later, the Co-op is thriving and operates a number of businesses in the town: a retail outlet that sells groceries, dry goods, and hardware; a twenty-four room hotel; a large commercial fishery; an arts and crafts outlet; a taxi and freight service; a commercial bakery; and a cable television service. During the peak summer season, the Co-op employs forty-five to fifty full-time staff and is...

  12. 5 LOU’S SMALL ENGINES AND SPORTS LIMITED Fort Smith, Northwest Territories
    (pp. 101-115)

    For the past nineteen years, Alex Gauthier has worked as head mechanic for Lou’s Small Engines. He started working for his brother Lou, and then nine years ago Alex and his brother-in-law Earl Jacobson bought the business. It is a family business that sells and services dirt bikes and snowmobiles, as well as selling hunting and sporting goods to the 2,500 people in the Fort Smith area. The firm also offers courier and car rental services. Recently, Lou’s Small Engine became an outlet for Sears catalogue sales.

    Over the years, the business has built up a reputation for excellent sales...

  13. 6 NORTHERN EMAK OUTFITTING INC. Cambridge Bay, Northwest Territories
    (pp. 117-129)

    On a remote coastal lake on the east side of Victoria Island, which lies 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, brothers George and Gary Angohiotok operate a fishing camp. They are majority partners in a company called Northern Emak Outfitting Ltd. “Emak” is the Inuit word for “waters.” They offer fishermen from around the world an opportunity to catch arctic char in Char Lake.

    Bill Tait, who operates Adventure North Expeditions Ltd (previously called Canada North) in Yellowknife, and Jerome Knapp, a well-known journalist, are the other partners in Northern Emak. This is the first venture in which Bill...

  14. 7 RAVEN ENTERPRISES (INUVIK) LTD Inuvik, Northwest Territories
    (pp. 131-147)

    Moira (Mo) Grant arrived in Canada from Scotland in 1972, planning to stay for six months. More than nineteen years later, Mo is a successful businesswoman in Inuvik, a community of 2,700 people located on the east channel of the Mackenzie River Delta. Raven Enterprises (Inuvik) Ltd is the company name under which she operates a newsstand and gift shop called Mac’s News, a restaurant called Road’s End Deli, and a boating tour company called Midnight Express Tours.

    Through hard work and perseverance, despite various setbacks, Mo has several successful businesses. With Mac’s News, she offers a wide variety of...

  15. 8 WESTERN ARCTIC AIR LTD Inuvik, Northwest Territories
    (pp. 149-167)

    Fred Carmichael, a Métis Indian from Aklavik, is part owner and general manager of Western Arctic Air Ltd. Western Arctic Air is a connector airline and provides scheduled service to the smaller northern communities around Inuvik for passengers travelling on nwt Air, a connector airline for Air Canada, and for local commuters.

    In addition to scheduled services, Western Arctic Air provides an exploration charter service and carries on a very successful tourist charter business which operates as Antler Tours. Miki O’Kane is assistant general manager and manages the business end while Fred flies and coordinates the maintenance work. Sheila O’Kane,...

  16. 9 CHAMPAGNE - AISHIHIK ENTERPRISES LTD Haines Junction, Yukon Territory
    (pp. 169-187)

    Chief Paul Birckel heads the Champagne-Aishihik band and oversees all social programs and economic development initiatives, including one of their successful business ventures, a construction company called Champagne-Aishihik Enterprises Ltd. Based in Haines Junction, the company employs a number of band members on a permanent basis and provides seasonal training opportunities for other band members.

    The company’s revenues have grown steadily under Paul’s stewardship. It has successfully trained and given jobs to many band members, thus fulfilling its original purpose. The company’s reputation has spread in the community and its client base has expanded beyond the territorial government.

    Despite the...

    (pp. 189-201)

    Located one hour south of Whitehorse, Lakeview Resort and Marina overlooks Marsh Lake. Attracting tourists from the south, visitors from Whitehorse, and the local residents, the resort has developed a reputation for good food and friendly service in a beautiful location. Many of the local residents call it their second home.

    The unincorporated family business sits on eleven acres. The main building houses a restaurant, a lounge, ten motel rooms, a laundromat, public showers, a small general store, a beer garden, and conference rooms. In addition, there are ten cabins, tennis courts, an rv park with full hook-ups, and a...

  18. 11 OSTASHEK OUTFITTING LTD., Burwash Landing, Yukon
    (pp. 203-223)

    John Ostashek has been an outfitter for thirty-two years in Alberta and the Yukon. His business is located 150 air miles west from Whitehorse in the Kluane Lake area and has operated for eighteen years. John handles fifty to fifty-five hunters per season in a hunting area of about 5,000 square miles.

    This operation is very successful and attracts hunters from across North America and Europe. Many are repeat clients, who appreciate the professionalism and integrity with which John provides his services. John’s wife, Carol Pettigrew, does the business’s bookkeeping and manages the flow of hunters between Whitehorse and their...

    (pp. 225-239)

    Chuck Halliday, President and General Manager of Taylor Chev Olds, operates a successful car dealership serving a market of approximately 40,000 people in northern British Columbia, the Yukon, and north to the Mackenzie Delta in the Northwest Territories. Mr. Halliday was hired as secretary-treasurer on January 1, 1966 to run the business. Originally a banker from Vancouver, Mr Halliday became general manager in 1968. From Chuck’s perspective, the key to the dealership’s success is its reputation with its customers, with its staff, in the community, and with its major franchisors, General Motors and Tilden Rent-A-Car. Taylor Chev Olds is known...

  20. 13 YUKON BOTANICAL GARDENS, Whitehorse, Yukon
    (pp. 241-255)

    A surprise awaits visitors to the city of Whitehorse. A long-time resident has realized his dream of building the northernmost botanical show gardens in the western hemisphere. Lome Metropolit conceived the idea, developed it over a year and a half, and then built phase one and opened his doors in the summer of 1985.

    The Yukon Botanical Gardens are located on twenty-two acres of land on the southern outskirts of the city. Visitors are treated to beautifully landscaped gardens throughout the summer months. Approximately 750,000 annuals and perennials are planted each year and there are almost 1,000 plant species in...

  21. 14 YUKON GAME FARM LTD Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
    (pp. 257-278)

    Danny Nowlan operates a successful game farm, located just outside of Whitehorse. Over the past twenty years, he has established an international reputation with world zoos as a first-class breeder of northern animals. In 1989, he began work on upgrading the farm as a result of an agreement with a tour company to bring tourists to view the animals on his game farm.

    Danny operates the farm with the assistance of his wife Ulrike (Uli). He has recently hired staff to assist in the family-run operation. His children, who are grown now, have worked on the farm in past summers....

  22. 15 Translation and Interpretation Services, Community Unidentified by Request North of 60°
    (pp. 279-285)

    Ethel operates a successful translation and interpretation service in a community in the Northwest Territories. The majority of her work is translating English to Inuktitut, the language of eastern and central Arctic Inuit. Ethel offers her translation and interpretation service to local businesses on a part-time basis throughout the year. She does travel to other communities, but this service is reserved for her established customers. She manages to schedule many of her projects around the times when her children do not need her. She hires additional staff in the community on a contract basis to handle any overload.

    Translation and...

    (pp. 286-290)

    This study reports on a sample of successful businesses operating in small Northern communities at various stages in the business development process. Each entrepreneur or business team offers a personal perspective on issues surrounding the growth and maintenance of their businesses. Common themes appear throughout the chapters, but there are also unique approaches which allow the reader to review some options in developing his or her own business plans.

    Personal skills and business philosophies for the sample are summarized in the following paragraphs. A potential entrepreneur may use it as a starting point for planning a business, and a practicing...

  24. APPENDIX ONE Key Definitions
    (pp. 293-295)
  25. APPENDIX TWO Checklists
    (pp. 296-310)
    (pp. 311-312)